cabal (n.)
1520s, "mystical interpretation of the Old Testament," later "society, small group meeting privately" (1660s), from French cabal, in both senses, from Medieval Latin cabbala (see cabbala). Popularized in English 1673 as an acronym for five intriguing ministers of Charles II (Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley, and Lauderdale), which gave the word its sinister connotations.